Victoria University, Melbourne
In May 1950, during the debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, a young doctor with a promising career was sacked. No reasons for his dismissal were given and no right of appeal was permitted. Outside his working hours Paul James was politically active in the emerging peace movement in Melbourne and the subject, therefore, of an adverse security file. A decade later he was still struggling to lift the stigma associated with his sacking. This paper examines the so-called “sinister case of Dr James”. His case provides us with a unique window into the political climate of the Cold War during the early 1950s.
On 8 June 1961 an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) document, Report 61/857, noted that Dr Paul James had recently become a member of the Australian Labor Party. The report stated that James had joined the ALP in order “to clear his name, as he has been branded as a Communist and…this stigma is now affecting his profession as a private medical practitioner”.1 The origins of this stigma lay in circumstances eleven years earlier, when James was sacked, with no right of appeal, from his position as Resident Medical Officer at the Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg in Victoria. The heavy hand of the Cold War had struck and its reach had extended into the 1960s.
Despite the clear window it opens onto the world of Cold War victimisation, the curious case of Paul Reuben James has been entirely overlooked by all commentators on the Cold War.2 So the first aim of this article is simply to rescue his story from historical neglect. James was only a minor casualty of Australia’s Cold War but notoriety is not the criterion for historical attention. The search for an explanation of James’ dismissal leads us to the second aim. His case can be used as a litmus test, an index, of the political climate in Australia during the first six months of Menzies’ sixteen-year rule. Just as Menzies’ anti-communism in the early Cold War period is receiving fresh historical evaluation,3 so this paper will go beyond the customary “McCarthyism downunder” explanation and reveal a different aspect of Australia’s early Cold War.
Born in Adelaide in November 1916, Paul Reuben James graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery in 1941. In January 1942, the month of his marriage, he joined the Australian Military Forces and became a Captain in the 3rd Motor Brigade Regiment. From November 1942 until August 1944, he worked as a psychiatrist at the Heidelberg General Hospital. He spent the next year, to use army acronyms, as “MO (CAPT) 106 Aust Lt Fd Amb (AIF)” at Lae in New Guinea. He then worked briefly at Goulburn General Hospital before returning, in December 1946, to Heidelberg. In April 1948 he was transferred to the Reserve of Officers with the Australian Army Medical Corps. According to the Professor of Physiology at the University of Melbourne, RD “Pansy” Wright, James’ medical knowledge was “first rate” and he placed him in the “top rank of the younger doctors in the State”.4 Others described him as “a brilliant medical officer” with an “excellent medical record”.5 The work on which he was primarily engaged at the Repatriation Hospital was not commonplace: he treated veterans suffering from schizophrenia.6 However, staff shortages also required his treatment of arthritis, nitrogen mustard and tuberculosis cases. It was due to such understaffing that James agreed, just prior to his dismissal, to postpone taking due leave.
On 29 May 1950, James’ temporary leave became permanent. He was delivered a confidential memorandum from the Deputy Commissioner and counter-signed by the Medical Superintendent, informing him that due to “advice received” from the Permanent Head of the Public Service Board in Canberra, “your services with the Repatriation Commission will terminate at close of business session on Wednesday, 7 June 1950”.7 He was thus given ten days’ notice. There was also a nasty sting in the tail. Due to staff shortages James had agreed, just prior to his dismissal, to postpone taking due leave. His dismissal notice stated that he would “not be eligible for pro rata payment in lieu of recreation leave”.8 This penalty was normally applied in cases of “severe misdemeanour”. More importantly, although assured that action against him was taken on neither professional nor technical grounds, James was not given any reason for his dismissal. In addition, because he had not achieved permanency, he had no right of appeal. The response from civil libertarians was quick and direct. On 2 June the following statement was issued: “The Council for Civil Liberties and its legal advisers are of opinion that in the absence of allegations of substantial misconduct or dereliction of duty on Dr. James’ part his dismissal is unwarranted and may fitly be the subject of legal proceedings”.9
A series of attempts, all unsuccessful, were initiated to discover what underlay the dismissal. On 30 May and 7 June James wrote to the Medical Superintendent at the hospital, Dr S. McLennan, seeking an explanation and requesting the opportunity to answer charges. McLennan did not respond although, later, he denied responsibility. On 5 June a deputation of medical officers from the hospital met the Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation in Victoria, HC Laussen; he informed them that he did not know why Dr James had been dismissed.10 This quest for illumination extended to Canberra. James’ cause was taken up in parliament by that stormy petrel of the Australian labour movement, Senator William Morrow.11 On the evening of 31 May he sought an assurance from the Minister for Repatriation, Senator Walter Cooper—who commented earlier that he had just heard about the dismissal, and only “unofficially”12—that a board of inquiry would be established to investigate the reasons for James’ removal. The Minister gave an assurance to Morrow: “I shall cause inquiries to be made into the matter”.13
Thereafter, Senator Cooper dissembled and deceived and stalled. On 2 June he told parliament that he “expected the report today”; on 5 June he stated that he would make a full statement the following day; on 7 June, he was “not yet in a position” to provide an answer;14 on 8 June that he would provide an answer but “in due course”15 It would appear that Menzies, who assured the House that he was “at present actively inquiring into the case,”16 was complicit in this procrastination. According to veteran Labor parliamentarian, Don Cameron, such delays were “unpardonable” since, he argued, “any Minister who has experience knows that it is generally an easy matter to obtain information within a reasonable time”.17 The editor of one daily newspaper agreed: “If there was good reason for [James’] dismissal it is fantastic that the responsible Minister should not at once be able to produce it”.18 Finally, on 13 June, the Minister for Repatriation provided answers, but extremely cryptic ones, to the six questions put on notice by Senator Morrow. It was now clear that he would not, after all, establish a board of inquiry into James’ removal. His one word response, “No”, to this request left little room for ambiguity but much cause for dissatisfaction.19 When asked, once again, to provide reasons for the dismissal, he replied. “I’m afraid I can’t. My answers yesterday are the last statement I will make on the case”. Doubtless, he hoped that a newspaper headline, “Sacked doctor’s case closed”20, would prove correct.
But the case remained open. On 14 June Morrow asked Cooper another series of questions, ten in all, the last being the most pointed: “In view of the Minister’s refusal to set up a board of inquiry will he tell the Senate why Dr. James was dismissed?”21 The Minister evaded, once again: ‘The questions…will be answered if they can be”.22 His delaying tactics continued. Some days later he said, “when I have the answer I will give it”.23 The matter was now raised for the first time in the House of Representatives. The member for Eden-Monaro discussed the case in considerable detail, attacked Cooper’s prevarication and emphasised the personal injustice suffered by James. One comment was particularly prescient: “His dismissal is a slur upon his reputation which must cause him injury for many years to come unless he obtains the redress that he seeks”.24
Beyond parliament, the issue generated interest and emotion. One newspaper columnist argued that the James case had serious implications for both the status of Parliament and the health of democracy:
All members of Parliament must support the right of any one of them to demand information in Parliament from the Executive. If members want information about the dismissal of Dr James and the Government refuses to provide it, all members of Parliament, whatever their politics, should insist that it be given. Parliament is more important than party. If Ministers no longer recognise a responsibility to Parliament, if the questions of members are brushed aside, then responsible government ceases to have meaning; we are on the way to authoritarianism.25
In a robust editorial, “The Sinister Case of Dr. James”, the Argus—on behalf of “the public”—alleged that Senator Cooper “may wish the matter forgotten. But the public will not forget it and the public wants the truth”. It argued that there were at least three causes for “grave concern”. First, James has been punished for a supposed offence that had been neither identified nor proved. Second, Parliament itself, “the highest tribunal in the land” had deliberately been kept ignorant. Third, ex-servicemen patients were deprived of medical services of a doctor whose professional reputation was indisputably high.26
Support for James sprang from his local community. A well-attended meeting of medical officers at the Heidelberg Hospital on 6 June condemned his dismissal and requested re-instatement pending an enquiry.27 In sympathy with James, a female member of the hospital staff resigned in protest.28 A petition to the Minister for Repatriation requesting reasons for the dismissal and calling for his re-instatement was circulated at the hospital. Apparently forty medical staff and a large number of patients signed it. Apparently, because the petition was never presented since it was seized by “security officers” (whether ASIO or the Commonwealth Investigation Service (CIS) remains unclear) and not returned.29 This seizure suggests something deeper and perhaps more sinister concerning the James case. In the words of one Labor politician, “things are bad when the security police are interesting themselves in this case”.30 This “interest” will be discussed later in the paper. Ex-soldiers and patients were another source of support. One was Humphrey Bellamy who wrote “in the interests of tuberculosis sufferers”, of whom he was one. He argued that because James “was doing extensive research in[to] the cause and cure of tuberculosis”, he “should be re-instated immediately and the persons responsible for his dismissal should be named”.31
These expressions of local support soon escalated. A public meeting to discuss James’ sacking was held at the Eisteddfod Hall in Ivanhoe on 15 June. It was organised by the Heidelberg Committee of the Australian Peace Council. The meeting was attended by nearly 100 people who listened to JW Legge, a scientist and member of the Communist Party, compare James’ dismissal with that of Professor Joliot Curie in France. The other speaker was Dr T.R Kaiser who, according to an ASIO officer present, got “carried away by his own fanaticism”.32 Tom Kaiser had good reason to get “carried away”. Ten months before he too had been dismissed and he was still fighting for re-instatement. The “Kaiser case” had become a cause célèbre.33 Jack Legge, in fact, had recently formed the Kaiser Protest Committee in order to mobilise support behind Kaiser’s unsuccessful attempts to appeal against his dismissal by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. To them, this case must have seemed like a re-run. One of the things different, however, was the immediate political context—the passage through parliament of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Not surprisingly, the meeting viewed James’ unexplained dismissal “with alarm” for it represented a “grave injustice to a man who has earned the respect of his fellows”. Some of these “fellows” gave their support as well as their respect: it was reported that “a number of doctors” attended the meeting.34
The protest movement spread. Resolutions condemning James’ dismissal and calling for his re-instatement were passed and sent to various government and opposition leaders by meetings of the congregation of the Unitarian Church, the Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women, of which James was a member, and a meeting of about 2000 people in Melbourne Town Hall.35 The response from RW Roberts, a “University student under the Rehabilitation Scheme” was characteristic. He posed the rhetorical question: “Are we to tolerate the position where only those graduates who have the approval of a very dubious Security Service are able to carry on their work free from the fear of losing their positions?”36 James, meanwhile, remained unemployed. He told the Heidelberg News that he had refused several offers to act as locum for general practitioners since he wished “to wait until all trace of stigma removed from my name”.37 As indicated at the beginning of this paper, his wait was a long one.
In attempting to understand the “strange case of Dr James”, as the Argus termed it, the most logical explanation would appear to be that he was an early victim of the mounting Cold War atmosphere associated with the first months of the Menzies government. There were many elements and expressions of this atmosphere that steadily built up throughout 1949. The most notable were the formation of ASIO in March; the apparently sensational revelations by Cecil Sharpley of communist perfidy in April; the establishment of a Royal Commission to investigate communism in Australia in May (that sat until March 1950); the sentencing of LL Sharkey, for uttering seditious words, to a three year jail term in June; the bitter seven week general coal strike that was broken by the Chifley government amid allegations of communist conspiracy in June-August; and the electoral victory of Menzies, assisted by his pledge to ban the Communist Party, in December.
The Communist Party Dissolution Bill was introduced into Federal parliament on 27 April 1950, four weeks before James’ services were terminated. There are similarities between the circumstances of his dismissal and the provisions of the Bill. The connection, most likely, is accidental more than causal. Nevertheless, James’ dismissal provides a sharp foretaste, even a harbinger, of the authoritarian state that could have emerged had Menzies’ efforts to outlaw communism succeeded. For this reason, a brief outline of the Bill is appropriate.
Once the Menzies government considered in detail the proposal to ban the Communist Party at a series of Cabinet meetings in early March, “legal luminaries” in Melbourne and Sydney worked assiduously on drafting the Bill.38 The best-known of the six main provisions concerned the power vested in the government to “declare” any individual or association “communist”, whereupon the onus fell upon the accused to prove otherwise. To be “declared” embraced anyone who “engaged or was likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth”. Such “declared” persons would be ineligible for employment by the Commonwealth or any Commonwealth authority. To be a “communist” was to support—and not just advocate—any of the theories of Marx or Lenin. The net was wide and its edges were thick and blurred. The influence is apparent here of the Smith Act (1940) which was invoked in 1948-9 by the Truman administration to decapitate, successfully, the American Communist Party.39
For members of the CPA the challenges were both frightening and inspiring. Preparations for illegality were in full swing well before it became, temporarily, a reality on 19 October.40 One member recalled the visit in early 1950 from a leading communist cadre, JC Henry:
I remember him enthralling [us] with his account of probable illegality and the dangers which existed for active Party members. “There may be sacrifices”, his voice rang out, “there will be sacrifices, there need to be sacrifices to inspire the masses to struggle”. So as we marched into the red dawn it seemed that some of us might be left to languish in prison or fall before blood-stained walls!41
For the leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, JB Chifley, the Communist Party Dissolution Bill provoked a less apocalyptic but, possibly, more chilling response. It also carried a particular resonance for Paul Reuben James. According to Chifley, the Bill
opens the door for the liar, the pimp and the perjurer to make charges and damn men’s reputations and to do so in secret without having either to substantiate or prove any charges they may make…Without having an accusation made against them in direct terms, such individuals might have their reputations as well as their livelihoods destroyed…42
For an individual who was not a communist but who belonged to or merely supported a left-wing organisation, such as the New Theatre League, the signs were ominous. The League was sufficiently close to the Communist Party for it, and the individual, to be “declared”. If that individual were a government employee he or she could be dismissed or imprisoned for up to five years. The onus of proof applied and mechanisms for appeal were negligible.
James was such an individual. He was on the Commonwealth payroll, he had joined a potentially “declared” organisation—the Heidelberg branch of the Australian Peace Council—in March, and he spoke at the Australian Peace Congress in mid-April.43 In Cold War parlance he was a “fellow traveller”, but he most definitely was not a communist.44 The links between the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and James’ dismissal were not lost on observers. In an editorial headed “Onus of Proof”, the Argus argued that the onus was on the Government, not James, to demonstrate that the dismissal was on “reasonable” grounds.45 In Allan Fraser’s words we can hear echoes of Chifley’s objection to the Bill. Fraser argued that “strong ground” existed for connecting James’ dismissal, a “case of witch- hunting”, with “a report, or whisper, of an anonymous informer”. He continued:
It is disquieting that the whispers of anonymous informers are being eagerly heard if official quarters against a person with no charge offered—and no defence permitted. The matter was serious, particularly to the Government, which was seeking powers of the widest character to deal with traitorous and subversive elements in the community…The Government’s action in relation to Dr. James…places in jeopardy all the arguments that have been advanced by the Government in recent weeks…46
Morrow was more explicit: the relationship between James and the Bill was clear: it was “declaring him unofficially”47. As one editor wrote: “Dr James has been smeared in precisely the fashion in which it was predicted citizens would be smeared if the offensive clauses of the current bill become law”.48 The Australian Council of Civil Liberties saw significance in “the fact that Dr. James’ dismissal was ordered during consideration by Parliament of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill”.49 The sacked scientist, Tom Kaiser, argued that “if this can happen now, just think of what it will be like if the Communist Bill comes into force”.50 It was not surprising, therefore that at a large meeting in Melbourne Town Hall, organised by the Democratic Rights Council on 11 June, a resolution condemning the Communist Party Dissolution Bill also called for the re-instatement of James “immediately and unconditionally”.51
There was one other way in which actions against James resembled actions against communists once the Bill was passed. Heralding the raids on homes four months later, on the evening of 21 June two “security police” searched the home of Dr James at 22 Hawdon Street Heidelberg. This was reported in parliament and the press.52 It is possible that the intention was to find evidence that directly linked James to the Communist Party—a link he constantly denied. If such a link could be established, the parliamentary pressure on Senator Cooper might be eased. As a senior ASIO officer acknowledged, the Minister was “in a fix”.53 Communication two years later between GR Richards, the NSW Regional Director of ASIO, and his Victorian counterpart revealed the extent to which the confiscated evidence was actually incriminating:
Accompanying this memorandum will be found notebooks, a receipt book, a cheque book and sundry letters and papers, which have been in the safe at Sydney office for the past two years. They were recently discovered as the result of inquiries concerning another matter…All of the names and addresses are those of Melbourne identities and have no significance as far as this office is concerned. Although the matter is now two years old, there are names and addresses which would no doubt be of interest to you. Consequently the material is forwarded herewith.54
Thus, although the material taken from James’ home appeared to be innocuous, the door was not closed by ASIO on either the James case or the search elsewhere for subversive activity.55
If ASIO were unable to implicate James with membership of the Communist Party—and there was at least one ASIO informant who worked with James at the Hospital who was trying to do this56—the question for which no answer had been forthcoming must again be asked: why was he fired? And it was asked, repeatedly, when Parliament resumed after the winter recess. As in May and June, Senator Cooper and the Prime Minister refused, on 5 October, 10 October, 19 October, 25 October, 1 November, 7 November and 8 December, to provide any explanation.57 Typical was this exchange on 19 October: “Will the Minister say when a reply to the question will be given? This man [James] is still suffering from persecution”. “The answer to the honourable senator’s question is not yet available”.58 In frustration Senator Morrow continued to plead: “If he has been guilty of any offence, then let him take his punishment, but if he has committed no offence, let us remove the stigma that is now attached to him…Again I appeal to the Minister to do justice to Dr. James”.59 The appeal was in vain.
It has not been possible to locate, either in the archives of the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital or in the records of the Department of Repatriation or Veterans’ Affairs, the file on the James case.60 We can surmise that it was thick if only because of the necessarily frequent correspondence between the Minister, his Department, the Hospital, the Repatriation Commission, the security services, the Prime Minister and, indeed, James himself who repeatedly sought an interview.
It most certainly would have detailed the context, the circumstances or the reasons for his dismissal. What we have, instead, is one small snippet in an unsigned, undated handwritten letter in James’ ASIO file. The identity of the recipient is blacked out but the author is obviously a senior officer: he directed the recipient to “get in touch with Melb immediately”. He continued:
The subject concerns a doctor who was fired by Repat & questions resulted in Parliament…The reason why the man was fired…was that he was alleged to have suggested a one day strike of all hospital attendants as a protest to the Red Bill.61
So it seems that James’ nemesis may have been a meeting of the Hospital Employees’ Federation on the evening of 3 May 1950 in the Melbourne Trades Hall Council building. He seconded a resolution condemning the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and calling on the ACTU to “consider a general 24 hour stoppage as a protest against the Bill”. The resolution was defeated. Subsequently, officers from the CIS inspected the union’s Minute Book and “verified that Dr. James had seconded the motion referred to”.62 Yet this would appear to be a relatively mild misdemeanour, even allowing for the increasingly chilly Cold War atmosphere. And if this were the sole ground for sacking a highly competent and widely respected medical practitioner, then an Argus letter writer, E. Ellis from Little Collins St., Melbourne, was correct: with the James case Australia had embarked upon a “dangerous trend towards authoritarianism”.63
However, it is arguable that there is another dimension to this authoritarianism that, possibly, is even more disturbing in its implications for Australian society in the early 1950s. It is suggestive of the darker and previously hidden side of the Menzies’ government’s war on communism that historians are beginning to uncover.64 It concerns preparations for World War III. Even before the outbreak of the Korean War in June and the Prime Minister’s celebrated national broadcasts in September that Australia must prepare urgently for the possibility of war within three years,65 Menzies was convinced that a cataclysmic global war was imminent. As he argued in April, during his introduction of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, “we are not at peace today, except in a technical sense”. The communist-controlled peace movement, moreover, was designed to “prevent or impair defence preparations in the democracies”.66 Such defence preparations involved, inter alia, placing the citizen military force on a new footing in order that it could fight alongside the regular army against the communist foe.67 A terrible fear prevailed that undercover (or “non-legal”) members of the Communist Party may enlist for military service and be in a position, in the event of war, to act as a subversive “fifth column” within the armed services. Thus, in a top secret memorandum from the Victorian Regional Director of ASIO to the Director-General, the following appears:
In his existing capacity as a medical practitioner and Army Officer on R of O (AAMC) the degree of employment risk attached to JAMES is negligible. However, in time of war or other national emergency, such risk would increase considerably were the subject person to be mobilized for full-time military service…Subject is adversely recorded and regarded as a security risk. The Director of Military Intelligence has been orally advised to this effect.68
As a doctor attached to the Reserve of Officers Command, James would most certainly have been mobilised for active military service. When this factor is considered alongside an unfavourable security report we get closer to the reasons for James’ dismissal on 29 May. That security report, dated 18 April, noted that four days earlier James had received, direct by air-mail from Moscow, a copy of the New Times. It “was examined and found to contain typical Communist-inspired articles, almost entirely directed against the Western Powers”. This circumstantial evidence of fellow travelling was confirmed by the fact that James had requested three days’ leave to attend the Australian Peace Congress opened on 16 April by the “Red Dean” of Canterbury, Dr Hewlett Johnson, in Melbourne’s Exhibition Building. The report ended on an ominous note: “This information is passed to you as it is not known whether Dr. JAMES is a Public Servant against whom some action should be taken”. The recipient, presumably a high-ranking CIS or ASIO officer, was appreciative: “Many thanks. Dr James is known to the Repatriation Dept. His name was mentioned during a recent visit I made there. I don’t think we can do much at present, but will inform the Dept. of this latest material”.69
When James, two weeks later, publicly supported strike action against the “Red Bill”, his fate was sealed. The chairman of the Repatriation Commission, Major General GF Wootten—a former leader of the anti-communist Old Guard70— used section 82 (6) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act to initiate James’ dismissal. He was encouraged to do so not by the Minister, who was presented with an embarrassing fait accompli, but by the security services.71 They, in turn, were fed information by a “plant” within the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. Chifley was right: the door for the pimp had been opened. As far as James was concerned, there was no law broken, no dereliction of duty, no professional competence questioned. His work was important, his expertise highly valued and his medical record impeccable. He was therefore sacked, as the Member for Eden-Monaro put it, for “his outside political opinions”.72 And in this sense he was an early and continuing casualty of the Cold War in Australia. As the ASIO report of 8 June 1961 noted, the slur on his reputation had blighted his career. The stigma he acquired in 1950 had stuck.
1 National Archives of Australia, ACT Branch [henceforth NAA], A6119/90, item 2551, folio 79.
2 This neglect includes histories of the “Repat” Hospital itself: see Gwynedd Hunter-Payne, Proper Care: A History of Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital 1940s—1990s, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1994, Gwynedd Hunter-Payne, On the Duckboards. Experiences of the other side of war, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1995. The sole, small exception is a one-sentence reference to James in Don Watson, Brian Fitzpatrick: A Radical Life, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1979, p.233.
3 See especially David Lowe, Menzies and the ‘Great World Struggle’: Australia’s Cold War 1948-1954, UNSW Press, Sydney, 1999, ch.5; A.W. Martin, Robert Menzies: A Life, Volume 2 1944-1978, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1999, ch.7
4 Herald, 7 June 1950.
5 CPD, Session 1950 (30 May-6 July 1950), vol 208, 31 May 1950, p.3411; 6 June 1950, p.3722.
6 This was obviously the “special work” for patients that required “special study” to which one politician, sympathetic to James, euphemistically referred. When he was forced to leave the hospital no other doctor carried on James’ work with cases of schizophrenia. CPD, 14 June 1950, p.4298
7 Heidelberg News, 2 June 1950. There was much handballing of responsibility for the decision. Despite the clear wording of the 29 May memo, a subsequent memo from the chairman of the Public Service Board, W.E. Dunk, stated that “the termination of his employment lies with the authority vested in the Repatriation Commission. The Public Service Board does not propose to intervene in this matter”. CPD, 8 June 1950, p.3963.
8 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 13.
9 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 11.
10 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio12.
11 For this period of Morrow’s life, see Audrey Johnson, Fly a Rebel Flag: Bill Morrow 1888-1980, Penguin, 1986, Part Three (“Red Light in Canberra 1947-1953”). No mention is made of P.R. James.
12 Herald (Melbourne), 31 May 1950; Argus, 31 May, 1 June 1950.
13 CPD, 31 May 1950, p.3411.
14 CPD, 7 June 1950, pp.3785-6.
15 CPD, 8 June 1950, p.3964.
16 CPD, 6 June 1950, p.3722.
17 CPD, 7 November 1950, p.1935.
18 Argus, 8 June 1950.
19 Cooper’s parliamentary statement left James “more bewildered than ever” and he renewed his request for an inquiry stating he had “nothing to hide”. Argus, 14 June 1950.
20 Sun, 14 June 1950.
21 CPD, 14 June 1950, pp.4181-2.
22 CPD, 14 June 1950, p.4182.
23 CPD, 20 June 1950, p.4469
24 CPD, 14 June 1950, p.4299.
25 Argus, 17 June 1950. The columnist was the left-leaning Clive Turnball; the column was headlined “A surprising abdication of Parliament”.
26 Argus, 15 June 1950.
27 Heidelberg News, 9 June 1950.
28 Argus, 24 June 1950, p.6. Circumstantial evidence suggests this was Elsie Ferguson, a friend of James’, who worked in the Pathology Section of the Hospital and on whom a Commonwealth Investigation Service file (VPF 2316) was kept. A subsequent ASIO file reported that in late 1952 Ferguson was “now assisting [James] as a receptionist nurse at his practise [sic] in Heidelberg”. Minute to “C” Section, Secret, 25 August 1953, NAA A6119/90, 2551, folio 63.
29 Argus, 22 June 1950.
30 Argus, 22 June 1950.
31 Argus, 19 June 1950.
32 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 30.
33 See Phillip Deery, “Science, Security and the Cold War: An Australian Dimension”, War and Society, vol.17, no.1, May 1999, pp.81-99.
34 Heidelberg News, 16 June 1950.
35 Age, 12 June 1950; Argus, 13 June 1950; Age, 15 June 1950.
36 Argus, 8 June 1950.
37 Heidelberg News, 16 June 1950.
38 See Frank Cain and Frank Farrell, “Menzies’ war on the Communist Party, 1949-1951”, in Ann Curthoys and John Merritt, Australia First Cold War. Volume 1. Society, Communism and Culture, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1984, pp.116-9.
39 As Ellen Schrecker has noted, “the Smith Act’s criminalization of ‘teaching’ and ‘advocating’ freed the prosecution from having to prove that the nation’s top Communists were…preaching revolutionary violence”. Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1998, p.192. See also Peter L. Steinberg, The Great “Red Menace”: United States Prosecution of American Communists, 1947-1953 , Greenwood Press, Westport Connecticut, 1984, ch.8.
40 See the remarkable 24-page Communist Party document by “John Howard” (a pseudonym for John Hughes), Work in the Underground , J.R. Hughes papers, Mitchell Library, MSS 6381/1.
41 John Sendy, Comrades Come Rally! Recollections of an Australian Communist, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1978, p.64. Emphasis in original.
42 Cited in L.F.Crisp, Ben Chifley, Longmans, Melbourne, 1963, p.388.
43 It is possible he was one of the 160 people who attended a peace rally, organised by the Victorian branch of the Democratic Rights Council, on 23 February 1950. NAA A6122/43. For the Peace Congress, see Ralph Gibson, My Years in the Communist Party, International Bookshop, Melbourne, 1966, pp.163-5.
43 Argus, 8 June 1950, p.2
44 This is supported by Bernie Taft (personal conversation, 24 December 2000), a full-time Party functionary in 1950, who became associated with James after his dismissal. (This association was known to ASIO; see Minute to “C” Section, 25 August 1953, NAA A6119/90, item 255, folio 62). That he was not a “Comm” (as alleged by Country Party Senator Rankin; see Argus, 23 June 1950, p.5) was subsequently confirmed by an ASIO report dated 28 November 1951; see NAA A6119/90, 2551, folio 49.
45 Argus, 8 June 1950, p.2.
46 CPD, 14 June 1950, pp.4298-9; Argus, 15 June 1950, p.3
47 CPD, 8 June 1950, p.3964.
48 Argus, 15 June 1950, p.2
49 Brian Fitzpatrick, A Memorial addressed to the Members of the Commonwealth Parliament, [Melbourne], 2 June 1950, p.2.
50 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 30.
51 NAA A6122/43, item 1334; Age, 12 June 1950.
52 CPD, 23 June, p.4772; Argus, 23 June 1950, p.5. It is worth noting that one provision of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill gave security police the right to enter premises without a warrant and confiscate relevant material.
53 Handwritten memo, [nd] “urgent” NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 24.
54 Memorandum, 21 April 1952, NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 48.
55 As one historian has commented, “ASIO was very ready to begin a personal file but less quick to close one”. David Lowe, Menzies and the ‘Great World Struggle’, p.127
56 See the explicit reference to “the informant” in handwritten memo, NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 24 and an interview with an informant (whose name is blacked out) on 30 May, Secret memo to Director, 1 June 1950, ibid, folio 27.
57 See CPD, Session 1950, 1st session, 2nd period, vol.209, pp. 319, 538, 1032, 1289, 1667, 1934, 3950-1.
58 CPD, 19 October 1950, p.1032.
59 CPD, 8 December 1950, p.3950.
60 Also missing from James’ ASIO file was the record of the ambiguously termed “interview of Dr. James”. This record was “taken personally by the Director-General”. NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 23.
61 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 24.
62 “Personal and confidential” memo, Senator Cooper, Minister for Repatriation, to Professor Bailey, Solictor-General, Attorney-General’s Department, 11 July 1950, NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 33.
63 Argus, 9 June 1950, p.2.
64 See, for example, the pioneering work of Les Louis, especially “ ‘Operation Alien’ and the Cold War in Australia”, 1950-53, Labour History, no.62, May 1992, pp.1-18; “Communism as a hanging offence in the Cold War in Australia, 1950-53”, Journal of Australian Studies, no.46, September 1995, pp.11-19.
65 Martin, Robert Menzies, pp.169-70
66 CPD, 27 April 1950, p.1995.
67 See David Lee, “The national security planning and defence preparations of the Menzies Government, 1950-53”, War and Society, vol.10, no.2,1992, pp.119-38.
68 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 64.
69 NAA A6119/90, item 2551, folio 26.
70 See Andrew Moore, The Secret Army and the Premier. Conservative Paramiliatry Organisations in New South Wales 1930-32, Sydney: UNSW Press, 1989, pp.89-90. Possibly, Wootten was also involved in The Association, a Cold War successor to the Old Guard. See NAA A 6122/1, Item 2 Vol. 2; A367/1, Item C94121.
71 Given the links between Old Guardsmen and the security services it seems plausible to suggest that Wootten’s role was more than that of a disinterested bystander. See Moore, The Secret Army, p.240.
72 CPD, 6 June 1950, p.3722.